Inflammation is a popular buzzword in the medical industry, but many people don’t understand just how much inflammation affects the appearance of your skin.
This article will explain how inflammation affects your skin, and what foods you should avoid to prevent inflammation.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is part of a complex biological process in which our bodies’ white blood cells clear out infections and injuries, resulting in heat, pain, redness and swelling. This kind of acute inflammation is good for the body and indicates a well balanced immune system.
While inflammation is necessary part of the body’s healing process, chronic inflammation that lingers in the body has been connected to a number of serious health problems, including arthritis, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and some cancers.
Inflammation’s Effect on Skin
In addition to the serious health problems listed above, chronic inflammation can also take a serious toll on your skin, causing wrinkles, acne, and premature aging.
Your diet plays a major role in preventing skin inflammation. In an older blog, we mentioned a list of foods that boost the overall health of your skin, including foods with vitamins A, C and E. But just as important as what you should eat, are foods you should avoid. Listed below are four types of foods known to cause inflammation, why you should avoid them, and healthy alternatives to each.
Milk has long been considered a staple grocery in American’s refrigerators. However, while milk certainly has dietary benefits like providing a good source of calcium, a correlation has been found between skin issues like acne and aging, and the amount of dairy in your diet.
Many people have issues digesting dairy, specifically the lactose, casein and hormones found in dairy products. Research has shown that the testosterone-like hormones in milk may actually stimulate the oil glands in the skin, resulting in breakouts and other signs of inflammation.
There are a number of healthy alternatives to cow’s milk. Consider replacing your normal glass of milk with goat milk or almond milk. If you’re worried about missing your daily dose of calcium, consider other sources of calcium, like nondairy foods such as broccoli, leafy greens, flax seeds and chia seeds.
Peanuts are high in protein and healthy fatty acids like omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids are necessary in a healthy diet because they are not produced by the human body and are critical for brain function, hair and skin health, bone development, and reproductive development. However, there are two problems associated with consuming too many omega-6 fatty acids.
The body uses omega-6 fatty acids to create biochemical signals that promote inflammation. These signals are usually balanced out by signals produced from omega-3 fatty acids. However, foods high in omega-3s are much less common than foods with omega-6.
Inflammation occurs when your diet consists of too many omega-6 foods and not enough omega-3 foods, so it’s important to balance your intake of both.
Peanuts contain a large amount of omega-6 fatty acids, and very little omega-3 fatty acids. Therefore, eating too many foods that contain peanuts will cause an imbalance in these two fatty acids, resulting in inflammation within the body that reflects outwardly on your skin.
A great replacement for peanuts are walnuts, cashews, almonds and macadamia nuts. Also, consider swapping that jar of peanut butter in your pantry for nut butters like almond butter or cashew butter.
It is a common misconception that soy products are healthier than the foods they replace, such as soy milk, soy cheese, and soy burgers. However, while soy can be a healthy alternative, not all soy products are created equal. Some soy products, such as soy burgers and soy energy bars, often contain processed soy, which has little nutritional value, and is often genetically modified which is linked to inflammation in the body. In fact, approximately 78% of soy is non-organic soy that is genetically modified. The problem with GMO soy is that the body has trouble breaking down the highly processed molecular forms of soy, which leads to the body recognizing it as a foreign substance which causes inflammation.
If you consistently eat non-organic soy, you may be putting yourself at risk for inflammation and other skin problems like acne, rosacea, and eczema.
When you choose to eat soy we recommend that you search for an organic soy with no fillers.
Gluten is a general name for the naturally occurring proteins found in wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten is what makes pizza dough sticky – think of it as the glue that holds foods together.
For people with celiac’s disease and people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, gluten wreaks havoc on the body. Because gluten is an inflammatory food, even those without gluten allergies can see and feel the affects of too much gluten in their diet.
The inflammatory reaction starts in the gut. Gluten can have a damaging affect on the gut wall, allowing toxins to be release into the bloodstream, causing an inflammatory response. This inflammatory response often impacts your skin in the form of rashes, hives, acne breakouts, eczema, or psoriasis.
Fortunately, you can now find numerous gluten free alternatives at your local grocery store, and restaurants are increasingly accommodating to gluten free requests.
Cutting Back on Inflammatory Foods
We know that the foods listed above are a large portion of many people’s diets, especially dairy and gluten. Completely cutting out all of these foods leads to a very restrictive diet that is difficult to maintain.
Here’s how we like to think about it: eating a Cheeseburger every day is definitely bad for you, but having one every once in awhile won’t cause irreparable damage. This is the same thought process you should use when considering these inflammatory foods – moderation is key.
Instead of cutting out inflammatory foods all at once, start with incremental changes in your diet. First, monitor your diet in order to get a grasp on how much of these inflammatory foods you are actually eating. Then, try selecting some of the substitutes mentioned above. If this is manageable, and you start to see the positive affects on your skin, continue to making substitutions, and only treating yourself occasionally.
Your skin’s appearance is a reflection of your overall health. If you want a beautiful, clear complexion start by avoiding inflammatory foods. You will see and feel a drastic difference from the inside out!
Categorised in: Health and Beauty